Weekend Wonderings

Written April 19th, 2014 by Ken

th_chimpWelcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings. I hope that you have a nice, enjoyable Easter weekend and get ample “family” time. So, if you’re reading this on Sunday, I appreciate it, but get back to your family. You can catch this later Sunday or Monday.. Oh, and if you’re visiting, safe travels to you. Regardless, grab whatever beverage that you need and let’s proceed.

The James/Wexner

Study Identifies a Likely Key Driver of Colorectal Cancer Development and Progression

  • New targets are needed for agents that will more effectively treat colorectal cancer.
  • This study identifies a molecule that is probably a key driver of colorectal cancer.
  • The findings strongly suggest that this molecule could be an important therapeutic target and a valuable biomarker of colorectal cancer tumor progression.

A new study identifies a molecule that is a probable driving force in colorectal cancer and suggests that the molecule could be an important target for colorectal cancer treatment and a valuable biomarker of tumor progression.

“We found that miR-135b is up-regulated in both sporadic and inflammatory bowel disease-associated colorectal cancer, and that its up-regulation is associated with tumor stage and poor clinical outcome,” says principal investigator Carlo M. Croce, MD, chair of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, and director of Human Cancer Genetics at Ohio State and the OSUCCC – James.

Some more progress in James-led research. We’ve got to keep ahead of this stuff..

New Emergency Department at The James

The new James/Wexner will have an Emergency Department geared towards  the special conditions experienced by cancer patients.

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Weekend Wonderings

Written April 13th, 2014 by Ken

Boyd Crowder still decidin’ whether to itemize or take the standard deduction.

Welcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings. Basketball season is finally over. Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the men’s and the women’s NCAA Championships. Let the good times roll in Storrs, CT.  The OSU football team’s Spring game was yesterday, but I’m sure that I’ll have some thoughts in next week’s edition.

The James/Wexner

Well-Known Cancer Gene NRAS Produces Five Variants, Study Finds

  • NRAS is one of the most studied of cancer-related genes.
  • This study found that the gene produces five variants, not just one form as previously thought.
  • The finding might help improve drugs for cancers that involve NRAS.

A new study shows that a gene discovered 30 years ago and now known to play a fundamental role in cancer development produces five different gene variants (called isoforms), rather than just the one original form, as thought.

The study of the NRAS gene by researchers at the (OSUCCC – James) identified four previously unknown variants that the NRAS gene produces. The finding might help improve drugs for cancers in which aberrant activation of NRAS plays a crucial role. It also suggests that NRAS might affect additional target molecules in cells, the researchers say.

The isoforms show striking differences in size, abundance and effects. For example, the historically known protein (isoform 1) is 189 amino-acids long, while one of the newly discovered variants, isoform 5, is only 20 amino-acids long. Isoform 5 was the most aggressive variant in proliferation and transformation assays.

The last sentence and a half are not surprising. A smaller, “stripped-down” gene is much more likely to reproduce more quickly than its “bigger” brethren. As such, the isoform 5 variant may be the most dangerous of the five that were identified. As long as I’m on genes..

Here’s an article by Rameek Roychowdhury MD, PhD that explains genomics and its use at The James. It is a good, short overview, and a very good read.

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Weekend Wonderings

Written April 6th, 2014 by Ken

G Bruno

Welcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings. Basketball season is over, if you’re an Ohio State fan. And probably if you’ve gotten into any NCAA pools, as well. The Spring sports are well under way, and we have some time before OSU’s Spring Game. Grab whatever beverage that you need and let’s proceed.

The James/Wexner

An Overview of the BR-002 Trial in Breast Cancer:

Julia White, MD, professor, director, Breast Radiation Oncology, vice chair, Clinical Research, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses the BR-002 trial, which will evaluate the rate of complete tumor ablation of breast cancers that are less than or equal to 2 centimeters.

Ablation refers to local methods that destroy the tumor without removing it. Ablation treatment of tumors does work. They do a tremendous job of it at The James.

Keeping up:

If you want to keep current with cancer research and treatment at The James, you can sign up to their blog.

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Weekend Wonderings

Written March 30th, 2014 by Ken

G Bruno

Welcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings. The basketball season is over for both the men’s and women’s teams, Spring football practice has begun and we are only a couple weeks away from the Spring Game. Grab whatever beverage that you need and let’s proceed.

The James/Wexner

We have a couple of items this week.

  • Here is an example of research work at the James being commercialized, via a licensing agreement, as an avenue to get their research results available for general medical treatment, as well as provide some economic benefit to Ohio State.

The Ohio State University, through the Ohio State Innovation Foundation, has signed an exclusive world-wide licensing agreement with MedVax Technologies, Inc., for the licensing of groundbreaking cancer peptide vaccine technologies.

The anticancer vaccine technologies are designed for the treatment and prevention of cancers associated with the HER2 protein. These include breast, ovarian, lung, colon and pancreatic cancers, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. The commitment by MedVax will allow innovative clinical trials for various cancers to be conducted in the near future.

  •  Sometimes knowing what doesn’t work is very valuable, too.  The results of this study show the importance of follow-up studies done by a research university such as Ohio State. Rather than accept that an anti-cancer agent “works” and be done with it, this study points up the distinct possibility that in some patients, it may actually cause cancer growth.

Anticancer agents that target a cell-cycle regulatory protein to inhibit tumor growth might actually promote the development and progression of certain B-cell lymphomas, according to a new study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study indicates that inhibiting CDK4, a regulator of the cell cycle, promotes genetic instability and the development or progression of B-cell lymphomas that are driven by the MYC oncogene.

Commentary Read More

Weekend Wonderings: Ides of March Edition

Written March 16th, 2014 by Ken

J Caesar

Welcome to the mid-March Weekend Wonderings. We’re finishing up some Conference basketball, before beginning some March Madness. Not that they didn’t have some madness of their own going on in Rome in 44 B.C. Grab a goblet of your favorite libation and let’s proceed.

Caesar:  Who is it in the press that calls on me? 
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music 
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March. 

Caesar: What man is that?

Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15-19

The James/Wexner
DoubleHelixFirst up:  A potential new gene mutation that might drive lung cancer development and growth has been identified by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James).

A multi-institutional team lead by OSUCCC-James researchers reports the findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study describes a patient with advanced lung cancer who was treated with the targeted drug sorafenib while on a clinical trial. Within two months, she demonstrated a near complete response, and she remained progression-free and asymptomatic for five years while continuing to take sorafenib by mouth.

Per Dr David Carbone:

“Our study suggests that we can discover important new gene mutations that drive cancer development and progression by analyzing genes in cancer cells from patients who fare far better or far worse than others in a particular clinical trial.”

Carbone adds that using genome sequencing to identifying genetic mutations in a patient’s cancer cells can help better match patients with drugs that are most likely to eradicate their cancer.

“Knowing which mutations are present in lung tumors can help us tailor a patient’s treatment to the unique genetic features present in his or her cancer cells. That knowledge can also help us develop new drugs that target previously unrecognized gene mutations in lung and other cancers.  This is a great example of new scientific discoveries being made from clinical observations in patients, which can then be brought back to the clinic to help future patients.”

So, now we’re getting to a point where genome sequencing is providing clues on what to use, and just as importantly, what not to use in patient treatments. Read More

Weekend Wonderings: I Can’t Believe It’s March

Written March 2nd, 2014 by Ken

thinking chimpWelcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings.  Despite what you see and feel outside, we are less than three weeks aways from Spring. Enjoy Winter while you can. Grab whatever beverage that you need and let’s proceed.

The James/Wexner

Well, this is interesting.. It seems that the BMJ (formerly) British Medical Journal published a study questioning the advisability of breast cancer screening via mammography, and to say the least, the report is being excoriated.

Women questioning the value of screening mammography based on a recent study published in BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) should pause and look more closely at the data. Medical societies and breast cancer specialists across the nation agree: The data is flawed and misleading. There is no question that screening mammography saves lives.

There appear to be two huge flaws with the study. First, the study used obsolete scanning devices and the staff was not properly trained in the procedure. The second was, for a supposed randomized sampling, the test subjects were assigned to “test” and “control” groups in a non-randomized manner. Both of these errors are show-stoppers. I’d suspect that tBBC’s resident ‘lab rat’ (Eric) would not approve of these testing protocol shenanigans.

Next up, genetics!

“COLUMBUS, Ohio — A potential new gene mutation that might drive lung cancer development and growth has been identified by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James).

A multi-institutional team led by OSUCCC-James researchers reports the findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study describes a patient with advanced lung cancer who was treated with the targeted drug sorafenib while on a clinical trial.”

A couple of things, here. First, this is another example of not so much “root cause analysis” as “root cause determination”. Cancer in particular, is not a one-size-fits-all disease in regards to prevention/treatment. This is more excellent work by the James. My second point, directed to those folks who “did” the breast cancer-mammogram “study” above; this is how you conduct clinical trials. Read More

Weekend Wonderings

Written February 23rd, 2014 by Ken

greyWelcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings.  Grab any beverage(s) that you need and let’s proceed. Or, if you don’t need a beverage, that’s fine, too.

The James/Wexner

Well, as you can imagine, it’s not all “rainbows and lollipops” in cancer research..

A drug that doctors were hoping would extend the lives of those with the most-common type of adult brain cancer has shown no benefit in a large study.

Researchers compared Avastin — generically called bevacizumab — to a placebo in more than 600 patients with glioblastoma and found similar survival rates. Worsened quality of life and a decline in cognitive function were more common in the group that received the drug…

The results point to a need to better understand how to personalize care for brain-cancer patients and figure out which ones — based on genetics and other factors — might respond best to which drugs, said Dr. Arnab Chakravarti, who had a leading role in the study and is chairman of radiation oncology at Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes too often, and why clinical trials are so critical to cancer care.  As Dr Chakravarti states, it also highlights the need for a ‘personalized’ treatment protocol.

On the brighter side, The James has developed into a “destination” location for top cancer researchers this past decade.

“We’ve become a talent magnet,” he adds. “Cancer experts from all over the country are flocking here to be part of a world-class cancer-fighting team. If you talk to the physicians who are here now, they’ll tell you that this is one of the best places in the country and in the world.

“It’s one of the jewels in the crown of cancer care and cancer research.”

Click on the link to see the article and see the short video with Dr Michael Caligiuri. (Dr. Caligiuri is from Buffalo.. just thought that  I’d throw that in. You’re welcome..) Read More

Weekend Wonderings: Mid-February Edition

Written February 16th, 2014 by Ken

Giordano Bruno

Welcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings. The basketball teams are within a month of ending their regular seasons. I hope that you all had a very nice weekend with the love of your life to celebrate Valentine’s Day. And St. Woody Day, as well.

I spilled quite a bit of ink with this WW, and it is a bit different. So, grab whatever beverage that you need, and possibly a back-up and let’s proceed.

More on this imposing figure later.

The James/Wexner

“All politics is local”, said former Congressman Top O’Neill.  The same can be said for health care. Way back in the Fall of 2012, before I came on board here at tBBC, I’d asked Mali to do me a personal favor and run this article, concerning bone marrow donation. I remain grateful, since the article explained the issues that my cousin was dealing with at the time. We’re still searching, but a marrow match has yet to be found. Meanwhile, the wolves have been kept at bay via a stem cell implant. A significant “band-aid” to be sure, but certainly not the needed answer.

During this time, one of their sons (a Penn State student-athlete at the time) asked fellow PSU’ers to be tested as possible donors, and the response was, and continues to be outstanding.  Moving to the present, this video is an interview with Kim and Jim, and tells of the current status of my cousin’s bone marrow search, the participation of students as bone marrow donors and the work yet to be done.  You can do your part by merely swabbing the inside of your cheek. These samples are analyzed by the National Marrow Donor Program, and when genetic matches are found, the process begins.

Samples continue to be submitted, donors-recipients matched and people are helped. Obviously, this is an ongoing effort. As tenacious a disease that cancer is, we have to be even more so to beat it. I’d like to thank Channel 4 (WCMH) in Columbus for their features on this topic.

FDA approves Imbruvica to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia: Read More